Our 50th State

flying into Kona, Hawaii

flying into Kona, Hawaii

Alaska and Hawaii seemed out of reach, but so did the other 47 states as I grew up in Florence, Texas. I used to wish for a Disney ending or the American dream, but I’ve gotten more than a pumpkin carriage and a picket fence, and I’ve gotten to explore more than just this great country. As soon as Caleb got approved for leave I booked us a one week trip to the Big Island. I wanted to see turtles and volcanoes and am told this is the place.

I didn’t think much about it for the month in between booking the flight and rental car. I got sent home with a legal memorandum midterm, a passing midterm in Sociology, and six assignments and a group project in Business Communications. Caleb stayed up late with me to make sure I packed something and to help with my homework. I did what I could, which I realize was more than what was assigned to me, and figured the rest could be finished in the two days allotted upon my return.

Kona International Airport

Kona International Airport

Our neighbor Dan came over to say hi to the dogs and me while Caleb went to get a fourth key made – and still only mine works. We will be fixing that when we get back. Dan offered to drop us to the airport, even if we were leaving home at 4:15 am, to help us save on parking fees that start at $10/day. We laid down around midnight and I talked to Caleb’s different snores about how excited I was. He had made sure I had my camera, swim suit, and national park book before passing out.

Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP

Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP

Caleb woke me with, “We have to leave now!” I jumped out of bed and on the toilet while getting dressed. I grabbed my purse and sunglasses while he picked up the one bag we were bringing for a week of hiking and diving in Hawaii. He locked the door and then noticed Dan across the street, just calmly adjusting his vehicle for our presence. We felt rushed as he told us, “I was beginning to wonder…”

I wanted to ask why he didn’t knock, but I didn’t want to use the wrong tone either. Part of me had stayed up thinking about the shower and coffee I would have at 4:00 am, but here it was already 5:00 am and I hadn’t even said goodbye to the dogs. Surprisingly to us both, Dan got us to the airport in 15 minutes. Even more so was getting through security in under five, with an unexpected line at this hour.

Green sea turtle near Ai'ōpio Fishtrap

Green sea turtle on Honokōhau Beach

We sat by Gate 13, reading, and thought about the coffee we could drink if either of us had bothered to get up. We didn’t, until they called early boarding for active duty. Here I come seat 7A. We got the three seats to ourselves, along with plenty of complimentary coffee, water, and one Mai Tai. I tried to sleep. Caleb said I accomplished that for 20 minutes. Otherwise I was admiring flying over a new ocean together or reading.

walking in the park

walking in the park

I was able to use the first class toilet once and luckily the back didn’t have a line – twice in 5.5 hours. I saw the mountain peak and grabbed my camera, then I saw the water through the clouds. Soon our plane was descending towards the beach. I wouldn’t say we got the ‘Hollywood airport’ at first because of all the dirt, but as soon as we landed I noticed the huts that make up the open air port. We stopped to remove our jackets and take a picture of a statue, but not before a dad put his daughter close enough to let her cry – touching the day lit bronze.

Hālau wa'a at Ai'ōpio Fishtrap

Hālau wa’a at Ai’ōpio Fishtrap

We found the right shuttle and the driver had us laughing for our two-minute ride. He delivers us to Thrifty where I had planned on picking up a Chevy Spark, but ended up leaving in a eep (no J) for its four-wheel drive capability. The agent tried to explain words and numbers and I just asked, “Where do I sign?” I’m grateful Caleb was there to make sure I don’t totally regret uttering that. We threw the bag in the back, but didn’t worry about the convertible top just yet.

We had to visit a park, check-in to our hotel, wash our bodies, and find something to eat in two hours before checking in for our night dive. The park came as a surprise as I thought it was five minutes north. We stop at the visitor center and get directed to the fish pond to see turtles. I’d like to blame it on the lack of sleep or the sun, but I told the ranger it was tunnel vision that brought me within six feet of a sunbathing turtle.

Pu'uoina Heiau

Pu’uoina Heiau

There are two signs posted nearby and a line in the sand to keep people 20 feet away… oops. We walked further , touched the water, and looked at birds. We get a discount at Big Island Divers if we check in early and get there a minute before 1:00pm. The cashier has us try some flippers on and gladly agrees to rent me a mask like the one I own. We can now meet at the harbor at 2:45.

boat ride to first dive

boat ride to first dive

We check into the Holiday Inn and it’s open air like the airport – open patio to reception desk. I compliment the agent on her view and she checks our reward points. We got this room at half price. We’ll be on the second floor. We walk to Longboard Legends Pizza because it’s the second closest restaurant that we see next to McDonald’s that isn’t closed. We order the Thai pizza and a spicy sans-pepperoni one, ten inches each.

We walk back to the room to change and pull up to the Honokohau Harbor on time. Sitting there already is William from Montreal, a couple from San Francisco, and a girl who flew from Australia. Captain Justin gets the boat in the water while Dive master Jessi does the rest. They collect our shoes into a bin and welcome us aboard. Both are funny and willing to share their stories and the scientific stuff as we are eager to learn and see. The ride is short and the setup easy. Soon I am taking one stride forward – off the boat and into the water. Everything is amazing – my mask and wetsuit, the water temperature… and, holy crap, the visibility seems infinite. The beauty blows me away.

bubbles and boat

bubbles and boat

We descend quickly to 70 feet and I’m not cold in a 3mm suit. Caleb chases me down to deliver the GoPro. I try taking all the pictures and pointing at everything. We see a large Manta Ray and the sea urchins are black and white. I pet a sea cucumber that has the body consistency of whale poop. There are so many fish and I’m very excited, but I also need to come up to 30 feet to preserve air and lengthen my time underwater.

fish and coral

fish and coral

My watch tells me to rest at 50 and 30 feet and I try my three minutes stop at 18 feet. I’ve gone from 3,000 PSI to 500 in 42 minutes and soon I surface. It feels weird to be the first out of the water, but I can’t go back in at this point. Caleb joins me and we wait for the others to share our choice of ham, turkey, or lettuce wraps and then learn more about our next dive – how to hold the light, how to sit, how to leave the ‘campfire’.

We watch the sunset and don our gear, that was magically changed for us, to go below the snorkelers and closer to the blue lights. The water feels colder now, but I figure if the girl who weighs 90 pounds can handle it then so can I. We make our way to 34 feet where we will sit for 45 minutes and watch at least five Manta Rays drop their jaw to collect the available plankton. I watch some of the fish nearby as I shove my bottom, butt and feet, between rocks to stay put. Others will add the rocks to their laps and I wonder if this gives them warmth, but I don’t wonder long and go with a personal method – one available inside my suit.

divers and ocean

divers and ocean

I don’t know which felt better – a manta ray touching my finger, getting video of rays doing somersaults, or letting the pee warm me from waist to knees. I had mixed emotions upon leaving, but it’s a good thing we did. Back on the boat I see the tiny girl’s purple lips as she describes how badly she was shaking during the show. We piled our wetsuits, wrapped in towels, and most of us drank hot chocolate – one guy was lucky enough to wear some.

Justin turned out the lights and Jessi worked wonders in the dark, on a moving boat in a bikini. I saw a cloud that made me think of a manta ray and then noticed Mars shining on the water. The ride back was quiet. I wear the same flip-flops as the little girl, but mine are 3x larger. I climb in the driver’s seat with nothing but my swimsuit on.

manta ray at night

manta ray at night

We take another shower before we do a walking tour of all the Thai restaurants nearby – and all but one closes by 9:00 pm. There is a bar, ice cream shop, and mini grocery store inside the one that’s open, but we continue walking till we come upon another closed restaurant on our list. I heard singing across the street and took a step closer. Part of me felt like a pervert, but I peeked in through the open wall anyway. Inside was a choir and a crowd, and tables covered in food. We watched one song and then moved to the door for part of another.

eating by flashlight

eating by flashlight

We settled for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for my trio-dessert for dinner. We sat by the water, near the torch, and listened to Maille’s taco and dive recommendations. The vibe is definitely different here on the island – relaxed, calm, and friendly. The walk back to the hotel is nice, but it seems too short. Good thing it was as Caleb fell asleep before I finished the first paragraph. It’s 2:00 am San Diego time and I could use a nap.

Posted in Animals, Food, GoPro, Holidays, People, Photography, Travel, Water | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wedding Weekend

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steps at SD City College

Caleb took me to lunch as our last meal together before four days apart. I ate half my rice at noon and prepared for the haboob at 4:15. I only had to endure the high winds for ten minutes before it started to rain. The change of weather was beautiful and I appreciated the zen atmosphere before the dark roads of Phoenix were upon me. I arrived to my dad’s shortly after 6pm Thursday night and joined him for dinner at El Conquistador at 7:45 with Kirk. They played Words With Friends while I slowly ate my spinach-mushroom quesadilla and helped myself to some of my dad’s beans.

Back at the house, while waiting on Caroline to return, we discussed the past and its work to get us into the present and how that will affect our future. I always enjoy my dad’s theories, lessons, and ideas, and though sometimes intense and perhaps a bit overwhelming, they are always educational and motivational. Caroline showed up to put us to bed after 10:45.

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I’m still feeling exhausted when I wake up Friday morning from the broken sleep, congestion and headache not helping, of last night. I’m still laying down when they leave and I am slow to shower and don’t eat breakfast till 10am. I get to Kwality Ice Cream ten minutes before opening. I think some fig & walnut and blueberry cheesecake samples will help me study for midterms and complete homework that’s due this week.

Customer influx is slow, but there are family friends coming and going to help with preparation for tonight’s garba (a Gujarati folk dance performed as a fertility ritual) and tomorrow’s wedding. I closed up at 9pm and met Caroline at the house, mid-instruction from Dad on how to use the projector for her guild meeting. We got changed into our tight pants and long tops, added some jewelry, and were ready to join the party.

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Border Patrol Station, Hwy 8

We showed up to the Indo-American Cultural Center in time to see the children finish their dance and then headed outside to line up for faloodah and socializing. Back inside, we sat for a bit and counted the steps of the garba before grabbing some dandiya sticks and attempting to join. We couldn’t help but notice that it seemed to come to a screeching halt soon after and one guy took the lead to get us started again – more than once, which is no longer our fault.

We had fun and then went back to watching others dance until it was time to watch the screen. The family and friends had put a picture slide together along with voice recordings of their memories and blessings. It was sweet and brought tears to some eyes in the crowd. We left them to finish their private goodbyes to get back to the house by midnight. I was grateful for the invite and the opportunity into an intimate part of their Northern Indian culture. Having a community like this is great for helping each other along with children, school, work, and happiness.

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the dust before the rain

Caroline and I didn’t have this in our German and American childhoods, and it’s not something we see much of today, though I think communal living is catching on, it’s definitely not the same as being able to see grandparents, cousins, and best friends influence you to be a better person and to love yourself. Indians share food, dance if they can, and put others’ needs before their own. They all ask about my dad who is sitting at the house after another long day at the office.

We went to bed after 1:00am and I was still up by 6:30 Saturday morning to join them for breakfast at The Wagon Yard. I’d been there a few times, but this was the first that I needed the cowgirls room and got to know the size of this place. It’s twice as large as I thought inside, complete with billiards table, and has outside seating with a place for horseshoes. We enjoyed our food with laughs around the table and I’m reminded of Kirk’s new nickname for me – sock-puppet, earned at dinner when I thought he wasn’t paying attention.

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Ganesh at the garba

Kirk took Dad to work and Caroline dropped me to grab my books before I joined her at the AZ Desert Weavers and Spinners Guild meeting. There were snacks to share, books to buy, others’ projects to eye, a table covered in items to be raffled, and the presentation table – two women talked about their trip to Peru in the spring of 2012 and showed us a bit of what they saw and how much they learned during their excursion. The thing that most caught my eye was the works of Maximo Laura and his 3D weaving abilities.

I had to watch the time and leave early. I had triple booked my morning 1) guild meeting with Caroline from 10 to noon, 2) breakfast and or lunch with Grandma (who is in California at the moment), and 3) offered to come to the shop at 11am and open up so the wedding cake could be finished. Around 3pm a woman called to order seven tubs of ice cream. I found the flavors and put them in freezer bags for her, and put it into the computer, and three hours later she walked in with her husband and daughter to help her carry it to the car. Dealing with that much ice cream, and time in the walk-in freezer, cost me three nails and a bloody knuckle, but it was worth the sale.

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bride and groom watching the childhood montage

Being distracted, I ended up doing a bit of the wrong homework, but didn’t mind since I figure any learning is good learning and the book seems to tie itself all together, so the more chapters I know the better. I tried getting back on my computer a few times, but was grateful for the crowd. I packed myself up and walked out on time again. It was a nice feeling to walk into a dark home, having the place to myself for an hour, though I always appreciate the warmth they bring to the room – and the loudness and laughs. Caroline went to bed while the old man and I typed away at our keyboards at 11 o’clock at night.

Breakfast at the Wagon Yard is a weekend ritual and I put jam on my toast to change the taste of my regular order. Back at the house and Caroline planned to call her mom while I looked forward to some sunshine on my bicycle as I rode towards one of the many highways. I returned in time for a shower and some editing before getting ready for work. The boss’s daughter stopped by and brought leftovers from the wedding with instructions to fill my face with paneer, naan, strawberries, greens, potato balls, and truffles.

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AZ Desert Weavers and Spinners Guild

The boss stopped by later and brought family and friends, the out-of-town guests, by for some ice cream sampling. The little shop was full of warm conversation and sticky floors as the daughters and their husbands helped me scoop flavors into cup and cone. One person wanted to try all the flavors, which can be done, but usually takes some time – and an appetite. The crowd cleared out and I finished my homework while they continued the goodbyes on the grass. I still needed to study for my sociology quiz and finish amending my résumé for my Business Communications class.

There was a bit of confusion as to whether I would see Grandma this trip, so I had sent her my number and she called me immediately. We agreed that I would stop by tomorrow morning, Monday, on my way home. I got up at 6:30am and left Dad’s house an hour later to deal with traffic on the way to Tempe to see Grandma and say hi to Dan. She cooked me some eggs, that I put on bread, and made me a Paleo coffee (consisting of ghee, cocoa, and coconut) that I stirred and drank, all 16 oz, while we sat outside with the dogs watching them mooch and play around. We had an hour or so to spend together before she had to go to work and I had to leave for my five-hour drive back to San Diego.

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scenery on bike ride

We enjoyed the moment – the shared interest in my dad, our dogs, the birds, good coffee, and our family’s wellbeing. It was great to talk about the past, ponder about the present, and make plans of the future. We captured our faces, covered with a deer filter, thanks to Snapchat and posted it to Facebook. Grandma was happy that she got to see all her grandkids and great-grandkids in the same week and suggested I head towards Los Angeles to visit my aunt and cousin with his family that has grown. It’s been at least ten years since I’ve seen them.

Grandma and I hugged again, she locked up the house, and we climbed into our SUVs. I took some distorted route out-of-town, but appreciated the change of view, perhaps something I should do more often. I focused on that and as the road grew familiar began to answer political questions from the site isidewith.com to curb Caleb’s curiosity. I stopped for gas in the outskirts of Yuma and pulled over just as I felt like I was getting back on the highway when the engine and battery light came on at 12:30pm.

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Grandma’s dogs

I opened the hood and investigated. I took two pictures of what I thought the problem was so I could send them to Caleb for an evaluation for when I call roadside assistance. One was the sight of metal where rubber used to be – a missing belt. I’ve heard of fan belts and timing belts and since there’s only one here it runs everything. I really should look under the hood more often. It was part of my training as a young driver. Second thing I noticed is what appeared to be a broken hose or just all the anti-freeze that leaked from the car as it started to overheat.

I called my insurance company and they connected me to a third-party roadside assistance number that put me through to a local tow company that had to call their driver who was out on a pick up already. I’m told help will arrive within an hour and appreciated that it was only 90 degrees in the shade and that I brought my jacket with hood to protect me from the sun while I waited. Caleb updated me on the situation. Something else has happened to cause the serpentine belt to disappear and it’s responsible for the air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, and water pump.

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hanging out on the highway waiting on the tow truck

This meant I had to have it towed to a shop to be repaired. I was hoping the Belt Guy would appear and send me on my way. I was in luck though as a Highway Patrol officer stopped to check on me. He seemed hesitant at first, but I gave him space and allowed him to assess the situation. He gave me a water and wished me luck. He told me to call the station (or 911) if someone wasn’t there within that hour. After the officer pulled away, a man on a Harley pulled up to keep me company for 30 minutes. He figured it his duty to protect a lady on the roadside – how thoughtful, but I was grateful.

The tow truck driver was parking in front of me as I was on the phone with one company trying to get ahold of another and find out where he was, being he was 30 minutes late. His arrival sent the biker on his way, but as the driver went to deliver the car already on the bed the officer returned to give me more water and a number to a different tow company with faster service. I had their number dialed in when the driver finally returned and was able to put my car on the bed at 2:30pm.

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Pete loves Round Table too!

By this time Caleb was already on his way to me. I wanted to get the car home and he wanted me to go to class. I thought it’d be cute to drive beside each other, something we’ve never done, but also a waste of his time and unneeded gas. The assistance office had given the tow company the old address to the repair shop and we had to drive across town to their new location. I forget how big this city is, or seems, as I only ever stop near the Prison State Park.

Three guys and one car later and I’m told that my water pump is broke, which is what ruined my belt. Chris called Pep Boys and I used Google to check the price. Caleb arrived at 4:00pm and the guys were busy working on the problem so we went for pizza which also seemed across town, but is only five miles away. Chris called us on our way back, with food in mouth, that a thermostat was also ordered – a common issue in this scenario.

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into the sunset and towards school

I was grateful for Caleb coming as quickly as he did, not only so he could drive while I ate dinner, but that we would have a ride home while leaving our Tribute overnight until the thermostat could arrive and the guys could replace it. I was nervous about leaving anything in the car (I got robbed years ago in a similar situation), so Caleb took my bike apart and crammed it into the backseat of the Mazda 3 along with my heavy school bag, small bag of clothes, and his uniform/lunch bag.

I wasn’t worried about getting to class and had already messaged the teacher who told me to “be safe” – which means drive slow and eat lots of pizza, but Caleb was adamant and the time difference, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, ensured I arrived during the mid-class break. Caleb agreed to hangout in the parking lot, and take pictures of me through the window from outside, while I finished the class. I got to discuss the film they watched, Merchants of Cool, that I remembered from one of my classes back in Florida.

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SD City College Learning Resource Center

My studying and fast driving paid off as the professor told us to take out a sheet of paper. I numbered the questions and wrote out my answers. Our first quiz was open-note and not everyone did well. Sadly, the results were almost similar to this quiz. It probably doesn’t help that some of the students spend more time on their phones, chatting with each other, out in the hallway, or sleeping at their desk. I also don’t understand how some of them were able to get by their language teachers with such poor handwriting. Maybe I was lucky to have an old college professor as my 8th grade teacher to ensure pride in what we did – even if it was different styles. We pass the papers forward.

*We returned to Yuma on Tuesday to pick up the car, probably minutes before the last guy was planning on leaving for the day — Thanks, Obama!

Posted in Art, Cycling, Education, Family, Fiber Arts, Food, Media, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Workout, Clockwork, Homework

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Dad’s new office

Thursday, after the workshop, Building a Résumé, I got on the highway heading east. I stopped at 7:15pm to fill the car and empty myself. I thought the one-lane due to roadwork on Hwy 8 would slow me down, but I still arrived at my dad’s house in Phoenix three hours later like clockwork. I said hi to the wife and she was off to bed for beauty sleep before a busy weekend. Dad and I would stay up till 11:30pm catching up on our last two months apart, which is easier to cope with than two years.

I was up another hour before catching six hours of shuteye. Caroline was probably at the halfway point of Camelback Mountain, summit at 2,700 feet, by the time Dad and I settled into a booth for Friday breakfast at US Egg, consuming equal parts coffee and water. We got to the office at 8:15am and I finally got the chance to meet this Kirk character that I’ve heard, and seen, so much about. Anyone who can make my dad laugh greater than or equal to my capabilities is a great friend of mine.

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I made my way around the office having conversations with Rainy, last of the original employees; Ariana, celebrating her birthday with a twerking robot; Steve, busy making animated eyeballs; a new Jessica with black roses on her desk; and Jeff, another man who has known my dad for over 15 years. Friendships of this length are an important part of our health as we continue our longer living journeys, and they are great for networking.

I appreciate all the hours of learning, chatting, and frustration these coworkers have gone through to make my dad’s dream a reality. I know some people haven’t made the distance due to their personal decisions or the company’s goals, but each one has played a vital role in shaping the future of virtual reality at Timefire VR. Dad flutters about the desks with ownership authority doing chiefly tasks while maintaining a great sense of camaraderie.

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Caleb’s yardwork

The vibe is productive and the seats still filling when Dad, Jeff, and I go for a nitro brew coffee break at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I enjoy part of my frothy beverage (almond coconut milk added) in a glass with my ass in a cushiony chair and my mouth set to rapid fire as I let Jeff know about my time overseas. Dad keeps an eye on the time, we get our cups to go, and I’m on my way to the house to grab food and homework.

The reason I drove out here wasn’t just to deliver frankincense from Oman and coffee cups from Bahrain to Caroline or to return my dad’s gate key and black apron, but to work the weekend at Kwality Ice Cream. I walked in at 11:50am and she’d already set up for the day. She gifted Caroline and me some clothes from her last trip in India and was on her way. I mopped, bumped my head on a shelf, and spent the day between serving customers a larger variety of flavors and a pile of assignments via book and online.

tea for two

tea for two

I did homework till midnight and passed out. Kirk joined us for Saturday breakfast and the waitress remembered my order from two months ago and the owner came by with couples’ jokes to give us a giggle. Dad unlocked the office for Kirk so he could get to work while we dropped Caroline off to spend the day with Christine. Dad took me to work and I got to keep my parking spot for another day. A family with five kids came in and amongst the confusion I got left with a partially filled cone. I topped it off and that was lunch.

Back to the books until a mom came in with her son. He tried a sample, walked over to the trashcan, and I heard something hit the floor. I glanced over and called him out for spitting his mint into pieces. His mom thanked me and told him to pick it up. I’d say the rest of my night was uneventful, but I emailed the wrong professor about text size in a framework for discussion and then had to leave a voicemail for the right class.

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view from Lookout Mountain

Caleb spent his Saturday sending me pictures of Sparky working in the backyard and Piggy supervising with a scared look on her face. I’m glad they have something to do in my absence while I eat more ice cream. Dad calls to remind me he’s on his way to pick me up and I pack my things quickly and am setting the alarm when he arrives. We go for a Greek pizza with olive oil for dinner and back at the house I’m shushed for a listen into Kirk’s ability to freestyle. It’s definitely a catchy tune.

Sunday is — sleep till 7am, do cardio workout, take a shower, and eat a healthy breakfast snack. Next — “accidentally” get lost and find The Original Rainbow Donuts and grab six to go. I stop at Aroma Euro Market while on the phone with Caleb, so I take a quick glance at their blueberry juice and chocolate choices before heading to Lookout Mountain for some nimble footwork to the summit before sitting indoors for the next nine hours.

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tax dollars at work, nature’s artwork

I hear something move and spot a Sonoran Chuckwalla hidden from the sun between the shade in the rocks. I complete my climb and pass multiple dogs on my descent and watch as the spit flies from their tongues in droplets. It’s probably high 80s during my hike and I’m a bit sweaty myself. I change into my uniform shirt and start selling ice cream. The morning is busy with customers prepping for today’s celebration of good over evil known as Diwali, the festival of lights. They will burn candles and fireworks and decorate their homes with rangoli, colorful patterns made of rice and powder.

The boss stops by and lets me light the candle, so the lighter will stop burning her finger. I will return to my pink box of donuts to mark the passing hours of the day until 9 o’clock comes and I can leave ten minutes after my last group of customers. I’ll narrow down my photos for another post before laying down.

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Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it!

Monday morning, and I’m woken by a dream. I battle to remember the details while at the same time forget them and go back to sleep. I can hear my dad and think I hear Caroline moving around, but don’t see her. I think I might be dreaming again, but I’m up and we’re going for breakfast soon. I grab my finished homework, shirts covered in ice cream, and put on my sweaty shoes. I will follow them to US Egg in my car, so that Caroline can take their car and I will take my dad to work.

He walks in the office and my professor returns my call from Saturday night. The conversation is cordial and I agree to meet her a bit early before my next class with her for review. I stop twice for coffee release breaks and then again at a halfway point to refuel the car. I’m able to maneuver around a few accidents, skip Dateland again, and… get to class on time.

Posted in Animals, Education, Family, Food, Friends, Hiking, Holidays, People, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Resume Writing Résumé

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Writing a résumé  is something most working adults have probably done at least once. Since I’m not one of those people, you could see my predicament when a professor asked me to have mine reviewed after a workshop, fix the changes, and bring both to class. I signed my name over 100 times to join the Navy, filled out a one-page application for my retail experience, went to a class and gotten fingerprinted for volunteering, and given a job just for walking in.

One of the adjectives I should add to my résumé  is hard-working. If I feel motivated enough by fear, competition, or comfort then I will do my best to perform the task at hand – help build a dream house for my stepfather, then move far away to escape his influence, and find comfort in the knowledge of a cookbook – not all spinach comes in a can. I prefer working over searching for it. The adventure is supposed to be in the journey, not the destination, but it has been both for me.

I once got a job by walking in and offering to wash the windows, but that was another companies responsibility. I procured my next position because the opportunity next door was closed. I was at risk of losing a job, but happened to know the right people. I took on another job because working only one wasn’t keeping me entertained enough. After that, I got a friend to talk to his boss — hired. From that position I found two more vacancies in another field.

I took a long hiatus, trying my feet in the self-teach world, and though that’s worked for blogging as a hobby, it wasn’t a very productive means of accomplishing a seat in a promising business and that opportunity is gone. Then I went on an extended vacation leaving a larger gap in my work and volunteer history. Knowing all this, I sat down to make a résumé on my own, since I had procrastinated asking someone who is more experienced than I.

I did some research to attempt date accuracy, but excitedly switched formats when I found one that only requires entry of years worked, though months should be included. I was uncertain about having to supply former boss information without checking old W-2’s or a database somewhere. I was worried about sounding pertinent and productive in the skills I claimed to have done at one point — most probably void with the increased use of technology’s capabilities.

I looked up an adjective website and pasted some bullet points into my résumé. Once I had about 7 – 10 for each job, I tried narrowing them down to 3, thinking that would sum me up well enough. I spent the day doing this and looked forward to Caleb’s input since he has experience with writing evaluations for his subordinates. He was quick to add detail and enhance my words to my otherwise vague and unappealing list. He sat with me, though very tired, till he had made final adjustments before printing.

I didn’t bother to glance at it before morning as we’d been working till midnight. I tossed it in my bag and brought it to school. There were only three of us in the workshop at 3:30pm, and only two of us had résumés, and luckily I went first. The counselor wrote on my printout (proof for the professor that I went) that I should change the chronology (most recent first), fix the formatting that the template messed up, and add a section for skills — computer, communication, and customer service.

I’m glad that I finally took the time to make a résumé, which is geared towards a non-academic organization, even though my experience would be better written in a curriculum vitae that focuses more on academic and intellectual accomplishments. I take pride in my work and that should show in my résumé. Writing one is something we should all do, and not just for a future job, but to show ourselves what we’re capable of as learners, entrepreneurs, and explorers.

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I’m Still Deciding

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studying Business Comm. to the scent of amber-honey

I recently got asked what I want to be when I grow up. Short answer: I don’t know. Long answer: some people wake up as toddlers and know what they want to be and they make it their reality. Others, think they know and jump into that for a decade or two. Some like to jump around or stall (that’s me), and others never find the motivation to begin.

I enjoy procrastinating and making excuses. I did plenty of both in regards to going back to school. Maybe I had enough inner discipline to teach myself (how we learn most things – talking, eating, driving, etc.) or job applications tell me I need a bachelor’s degree or five years experience, so I went with the faster option – a two-year degree. Is it really a job I want to do, perhaps not, but it’s in the direction of what others seem to want for me…

I struggled with this decision, and I still do, but I’m currently enrolled in three classes. It took a lot of effort on Caleb’s part to get me there, and for that I’m grateful (even if I don’t express it enough). It’s a chance to get out of the house. Though I could be out getting paid at a job and gaining experience or squandering another opportunity, it’s easier to pay someone else to take up my time than to job hunt – at least it was for me at the time.

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a cup of zen to keep me going

I’m beginning to see how sociologists label some people as Stability Seekers. We are willing to do the same thing every day because it works, even if we don’t completely agree with it because it’s a comfort zone. I’m happiest outside of that, brain and body, so I should strive to keep them there. Change might be slow, but it should be a definite part of my goals to achieve.

I signed up for Business Communications (how to email) and Business Law (haven’t started yet) and Sociology (the nature of human nature). Two classes relate to one degree and since the third class I needed wasn’t open for the short-term I signed up for another that ties into many fields. I was nervous about class on the first day. It had been five years since I’d sat in a classroom on a different coast going for a different degree.

My first class is on Monday and Wednesday nights and taught by a man raised in the 80s who wanted to major in history. We went around the class sharing something about ourselves. It’s an older crowd; people who have found their way back to school. The guy in front shook Obama’s hand and sits beside his son who graduated high school a year early and his daughter who’s got a year left.

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Sociology 101, notes in class

The girl up front is someone I recognize from boot camp (12 years ago) and stayed in the Navy for 10 years before getting out, helping friends run a business, and then selling her portion. One guy has three high school diplomas from three countries. Another taught himself how to play piano, starting at age 6, because it was available in church. My statement would go along with the other uninteresting ones in the room, but I was impressed.

The attitude of the room is laid back and the professor wants lots of participation in conversation. I have to hold my tongue frequently to not overwhelm the meaning of the lesson and the few others when they speak up. I thought three hours at a time would be too much, but the time flies and the mid-class break affords us a moment to catch a glimpse of the debate being shown on the TV in the break corner at the end of the hall. My class is being taught at MCRD (the Marine Corps Recruit Depot) and is twenty minutes from home via highway.

I get spoiled by the first week of free parking for Sociology and drive around the City College campus for 20 minutes to find a $10 parking spot 15 minutes away. I would buy the parking pass, which I should have done online already, but I don’t want to be late to class. There are three rows of tables and the ones on the right are filling up with girls on the left. My night class is 2/3 women, but the majority of Business Comm. is guys. The professor engages with us while we wait the ten minutes for the official start time of the class.

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hello outside

This room feels different. The walls and floor are gray, as are the shades covering the window, so though I want to feel gloomy (remembering the happiness this color brought me in my childhood bedroom) there is a young woman up front commanding my attention with her smile, accent, and outfit – only on Tuesdays. Something about me stands out and I will be the first name she learns, minus Paul, whom she already knows. It could be the fact too that I think I’m the only one in class with notes.

A girl in the corner discusses technology that’s been around for a decade as if it’s been around as long as math, and part of me thinks about how difficult this class could be for someone if they were unaware of these processes, now so simple to parts of society. I’m told to bring in a résumé for review and to prepare for a presentation at the end of the semester. I can feel my heart rate increase, but there’s also a sense of calmness. I knew this was coming and I’ve handled it before – and I asked for it.

The night class waits for the professor to dismiss us. This class makes a racket to shove their notebooks back into their bags to hurry off somewhere making the professor apologize (as they leave early). I suppose there’s an interesting factor in returning to school every couple of years, and taking a random class, to gain insight into the new teenage norms of what will soon be released into the real world. Most of them aren’t engaged in the class, and at least six were on their phones.

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I’m in classroom Delta

I gather my things and make my way to the accounting office to buy my $20/semester parking pass. Then I have to walk across campus to the police office, going through the cosmetology building (maybe not bad to paint hair and nails for a grade), to pick up my sticker. It’s a good thing I didn’t settle for the two-hour parking, as I’ve definitely gone over that limit. I head for home to get lunch before buying a $50 access code to my partially online class.

I look forward to the lessons learned in and out of the classroom. Caleb is doing physical therapy for his back (really hurt it on a diving trip), so he’s been taking the car to work (no riding bikes in the morning together) and is gone before I wake. I pack his lunch (when he doesn’t) and then we get to make dinner together before he goes to bed and I go back to reading. I’ve got a stack of books I started before class, the textbooks needed for class, a PDF version open in a tab, and recently stumbled on Kindle for Android – I’m addicted.

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